Muscatine County, Iowa

1901 – 1954


~ PART 5 ~

Transcribed, as written, by Lynn McCleary. Submitted November 3, 2019

Page 123



Contractors Have Made Their Camps Secure Against the
Wintry Blasts


The C. M. & St. P. to increase the Speed of trains—
Have Ordered Big Engines—Railroad Commissioners Report

    These bleak December days that the people of this vicinity are experiencing sometimes make one think of how the railroad men, who are working at the camps below the city, are fixed for the chilly blasts of winter. But no one need worry over that point, as the contractors who have charge of these camps know how to combat the cold. The buildings in which the men and horses are kept are all made of boards, that are put up in a rough manner, then caulked up tight. They were covered with a heavy building paper, that keeps out the wind. The men have banked them up for a foot or so, in such a way as to keep the cold from getting beneath the floors of the building. In this manner, and with good stoves and plenty of fuel the army of laborers will live as comfortably as could be expected under the circumstances. The contracting firm of McDougall and Yale have had big contracts in Montana and Wyoming, and even in that very cold section, their camps have been made very comfortable for the winter season.

Plenty of Time to Prepare

    On account of the pleasant weather throughout November, these contractors have had plenty of time to get their camps in the best of shape. The work also is farther along than they had realized it would be at this time. Considerable work will be done this winter, and when spring opens up, the work will be pushed with renewed vigor all along the line from Davenport to Ottumwa.

Big Engines for Milwaukee

    The C. M. & St. P. has been having a few visions of speed in its own head, since the stories of the Northwestern and C. B. & A. speed have begun to be in-circulation. The Milwaukee has contracted for nine high speed passenger engines of the Atlantic type with seven foot drive wheels, double truck, trailing wheel under firebox. The water tanks will have a capacity of 7,000 galIons. These engines are built for strength and speed and can seventy-five miles an hour regularly, day in and day out, the year round.

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None Have Been Established As Yet On The
Milwaukee Line.


Senator G. M. Titus Has Been Out For
a Number of Weeks Securing Options—
Plan of the Company—Work Progressing.

    So far nothing can be given in a definite way regarding the location of the stations to be established between Muscatine and Ottumwa on the new line of the Milwaukee Road. This has been one of the important questions that has interested the people all along the line, and it is a matter in which considerable secrecy has to be kept, on account of the farmers raising the price of the land, near where the railroad is contemplating locating a town site. It is surprising the remarkable raise that has occurred in the value of land, where some man thinks the railroad is thinking of putting in a station.

A Big Task.

    Senator Titus has had a task on his hands the past few weeks of no mean proportions. The only definite report made so far is the conditions in Muscatine. It seems it did not take long for a report to be made in this direction. It is also given out on good authority that there will be one station between Muscatine and Conesville. This will probably be somewhere near the Richard Milholin place or on the Isaac Lee place, but the question is not really settled in the mind of the company. The railroad company by means of their plats and drawings of the territory through which the railroad is passing have practically determined where they want the stations, and how many they want, but they are not letting the public know the secret.

Page 125



McDougall and Yale Now Have Two Steam Shovels
on the Work


May have worked there but Men Constantly Change—
Past Time Out of Chicago Stopped—Railroad Interests

    The contracting firm of McDougall & Yale have placed another steam shovel on their work southwest of the city and are pushing things in that direction. The first shovel they had working is one that they purchased new from the Bucyrus Company of South Milwaukee, Wis. and was brought here and put right to work. This shovel has been up at the top of the hill not far from the Adam Wigim farm buildings and on the land formerly owned by him. Here a large fill has been made and thousands of yards of dirt removed.

Another Shovel

     But this enterprising contracting firm came to the realization of the fact that in order to complete their immense contract in the required time limit that more machinery was needed and so put on another large steam shovel. The one put to work is a shovel that the firm used on some heavy work in Montana, and it was shipped from that state to Bayfield, from which place it was taken across the country to the McDougall & Yale camp. This shovel was taken across by the same methods as were utilized in the first instance. It was placed right back of the camp, where a large culvert has been put in and an immense fill is to be made. It is located about 2,000 feet east of the place where the first shovel is at work and over the top of the next hill Mr. Yale stated to the Journal reporter this morning that about 300,000 cubic yards of dirt were to be removed and placed in this fill and is the largest of the entire work.

Camp the Same

    The life around the camp is about the same. There are nearly a hundred men employed by this firm now, and the camp in which they are housed and taken care of has been made very comfortable While the bringing of another shovel brought about the employing of more men in one direction, it removed a number of grading teams and drag scrapers, which have been at work on the top of the hill where the steam shovel is now at work. The contractor also stated that this stormy weather made no difference and that no time has been lost on that account.

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Was Done At an Expense of Almost Sixty Thousand
Dollars—Has an Area of Nearly 250 Acres.


Usually the Residents Along the Line Settled With
the Company Without Trouble and the General
Expression is That Fairness Existed on Both Sides—
Few Curves and Gradual Grades.

    Did you ever stop to think what an immense amount of work is connected with even the preliminary plans for building a great line as the Milwaukee is pushing through Muscatine? The road having been laid out and the plans throughly perfected, the next step is to secure the right of way. The owners of the land, of course having become apprised of the fact that the railroad was coming through their land, immediately began to think much and seriously on the question of the price at which they should sell.

Employ Assistants.

    In a case like this the railroad company employs local attorneys, who are acquainted with the facts and understand the circumstances so that the land for the proposed route can be secured at the lowest possible figure. However, the railroad company, while always looking for a good bargain, pay pretty fair prices for the land and grant concessions so that the people southwest of Muscatine, who sold land to the Milwaukee company are pretty well satisfied and not much complaint has been heard.

Condemnation Proceedings

    In some cases condemnation proceedings were necessary before the land could be purchased. This was in cases where either the owner wished too much for his land or there were certain damages to asses, such as the removal of buildings or places where a great …

Page 127

… inconvenience was experienced by the parties who sold the land. In cases of this kind a jury was selected, who with the sheriff went to the place and thoroughly examined into the merits of the case and assessed the damages. This plan was satisfactory to all concerned and the people who suffered damages were well paid for their trouble.

Complete Record.

    One of the things noticeable in connection with this work is the complete record that the railway people preserve of the work and land bought southwest of town. For instance, when condemnation proceedings were necessary an exact plat of the land through which the railroad passed, showing all of the gate and under crossings to be established and every minute detail was arranged. This plat is on file at the court house in connection with the condemnation proceedings, the railroad company has a copy of it and if ever at any future date, any trouble should occur, those interested have but to turn to this very complete record for information and proof.

Immense Amount Involved.

    The Milwaukee Railroad have an immense amount of money tied up in land in Muscatine county. They have paid dearly for the right of way, but there is no regret on their part for they had set aside an immense sum to build this road and will not be balked or interferred with in the least on account of ca few thousand dollars. The Journal has made a careful study of this right of way business and has discovered the fact that the immense sum of $55,083.13 has been spent for land alone in Muscatine county. Some of the land will average over a thousand dollars an acre, but of course this sum also includes the damages assessed.

Borrow Pit Leases.

    Another thing involved in this enormous sum is money paid for what is known as borrow pit leases. In many cases the right of way lay in such a place that an immense fill had to be made and there was not enough land which the railroad company bought or …

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… cared to use to grade off onto this big fill consequently they went to the farmer owning this land and made a proposition to pay him so much for the use of a portion of the dirt of his farm to grade onto their land. In some cases this was a real benefit, and in other cases a damage. The size of the amount paid for the leases will show whether it was a detriment or not.

Louisa County Deeds.

    But after an investigation of the matter the Journal has also found that almost $10,000 has been spent in going through one corner of Louisa county. The railroad people has not very much difficulty in this vicinity because the people were ready to receive competing road with open arms. The building of this road will be a great benefit to the farms in the establishing of towns and better shipping facilities for the shipment of stock and grain. With competing lines they can get better service and better rates for the shipping in of young stock and what grain that will have to come by that channel.

The Deeds Filed.

    Following is a list of all the deeds filed in Muscatine and Louisa county showing the location of the land and the consideration paid:

William Singleton, land in section 20, township 76, range 4 …. $1,000.00
Nancy Wagner and husband, land in section 19, township 76, range 4 …. $ 78.00
Cyrus Fry, land in section 24, township 76 range 4, also land in section 19, township 76, range 3 …. $ 700.00
J. J. Hintermeister, land in section 6, township 76, range 2 …. $1,300.00
William Harper, land in sections 20 and 21, township 76, range 4 …. $1,300.00
Margaret J. Tipton, et al, land in section 21, township 76, range 4 …. $ 40.00
David Meyer, land in section 21, township 76, range 4 .... $ 50.00
Luther Colbert, land in section 22, township 74 range 4 …. $ 500.00
David Moyer, land in section 19, township 76, range 4 …. $ 900.00

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Michael Byrne, land in section 23, township 76 range 4 … $300.00
Henry Verink, land in section 23, township 76 range 4 …. $1,000.00
Eliza M. Cecil and husband, land in Section 18, township 76, range 3 …. $2,300.00
Maggie Hintermeister and husband, land in section 6, township 76, range 2 …. $200.00
Andrew Healey, land in section 10, township 76, range 3 …. $1,700.00
John O'Brien, land in section 17, township 76 range 3 …. $500.00
Patrick O'Toole, land in section 19, township 76, range 3 …. $5.00.
Patrick O'Toole (borrow pit lease) land in section 19 …. $52.50
M. J. Shellabarger, land in section 18, township 76, range 3 … $150.00
Adam Wigim, land in section Adam Wigim, (borrow pit lease) on land in section 11, township 76, range 3 …. $61.00
Isaac Lee, land in section 15, and 16, township 76 range 3 ...$3,000.00
Abraham Smalley, block 20, lots 1 and 2, block 22 South Muscatine …. $200.00
Musser Lumber Co. lots 1, 2, 3 and 5, block 18, and lots 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, block 19, South Muscatine …. $1,500.00
Richard Milholin, lnd in section 16, township 76, range 3 …. $1,500.00
D. McCabe land in section 11, township 76, range 3 …. $1,558.55
John Gay, land in section 21, township 74, range 4 …. $50.00
Henry Westerman, et al, land in section 21, township 76, range 4 …. $100.00
Priscilla Hartman and husband, land in section 4, township 76, range 2 …. $750.00
David Vanatta, land in section 2, township 76, range 3 …. $30.00
David Vanatta (borrow pit lease) on land in section 4, township 76, range 3 …. $5.00
W. S. Hunter, land in section 24, township 76, range 4 …. $1,00.00
Wm. Verink, land in section 23;, township 76, range 4 …. $100.00
Sarah and Rilla Smalley, land in section 4, township 76, range 3 …. $300.00
W. D. Smalley, land in section 3 and 4, township 76, range 2 …. $1,800.00
Holland McGrew, land in section 11, township 76, range 3 …. $850.00

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Mary Thompson, land in section 6, township 76, range 3 …. $880.00
Sidney B. Breeze, land in section 3, township 76 range 3 …. $1,972.00
Henry M. Funk, land in section 6, township 76, range 2 .... $3,500.00
John M. Kemble, lot 4, block 18, in South Muscatine …. $185.00
Adam Wigim, land in section 11, township 76, range 8 …. $1.00
J. J. Hintermeinter, land in section 6, township 76, range 2 …. $1,300.00
D. McCabe, land in section 11, township 76, range 3 …. $1.00
P. M. O'Brien, land in section 17, township 76, range 3 …. $2,200.00
James Healey, land in section 3, township 76, range 2 …. $4,900.00
Mary Fulliam and husband (borow pit lease) on land in section 6 township 76, range 3 …. $1.00
Walter J. Smalley by guardian, land in section 1, township 76, range 3 …. $1,200.00
Walter J. Smalley, by guardian, land in section 1, township 76, range 3 …. $3,125.00
Rosina Smalley, et al, land in section 1, township 76, range 3 …. $1,200.00
B. Wm. Verink, land in section 23, township 76, range 3 …. $100.00
Rosina Smalley, et al, land in section 1, township 76, range 3 …. $3,125.00
Mary A. Welch and husband land in section 19, township 76, range 4 …. $1,350.00
Mary A. Wehr (borrow pit lease) on land in section 19, township 76, range 4 …. $50.00
Chas. S. Millar, land in sectin 6, township 76 range 3 …. $1,750.00
Heirs J. T. J. Maxwell, land in section 21, township 76, range 4 …. $70.00
Matilda Vanatta et al, land in section 1, township 76, range 3 …. $860.00
Matilda Vanatta, et al (borrow pit lease) on land in section 1, township 76, range 3 …. $250.00

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Boyd Holliday, guardian (guardian's deed) land in section 1, township 76, range 3 …. $183.00
Mira Hershey et al land in section 2, township 76, range 4 …. $3,989.99
W. R. Murphy, land in section 24, township 76, range 5 …. $700.00
David MxCullough et al, land in section 24, township 76 range 5 …. $700.00
John Butcher, land in section 28, township 76, range 5 …. $200.00
J. S. McKee, land in section 24, township 76, range 6 …. $1,600.00
W. I. Edwards et al land in section 29, township 76, range 5 …. $300.00
Mary E. Hendrixson, land in section 30 township 76 range 5 …. $370.00
Rose Loftus land in section 28, township 76 range 5 …. $250.00
Ely Reynolds et al land in section 29, township 76, range 5 …. $500.00
Isabelle and George Sweely, land in section 29, township 76, range 5 …. $500.00
W. R. and Racheal Carr, land in section 30, township 76, range 5 …. $350.00
A. and Emma Jay Drorbaugh land in section 30 township 76, range 5 …. $150.00
Susannah J. Smith and husband, land in section 26 township 76, range 5 …. $250.00
Z.L. and Sarah T. Edwards, land in section 26, township 76, range 5 …. $250.00
T. A. Selders and wife, land in section 26, township 76, range 5 …. $400.00
J. H. Brader, land in section 23, township 76, range 5 …. $825.00

Page 132



August Schmidt Run Over By Dump Car Train


Had Been at Work but a Short Time and Did Not
Recover Consciousness After the Accident Took Place

    This morning at the railroad camp of McDougall & Yale, August Schmidt, an employee was run over by the dump train and injured so seriously that his death took place in about two hours. He had been with them but a short time.

How It Happened

    Schmidt was working on the grade with the dump train and at the time the accident occurred, he was attempting to cross the track in front of the dump train when in some unaccountable manner he lost his footing and fell. The train was running slowly and was stopped as soon as possible, but too late to save the unfortunate man. He was so badly mangled that he died later. The train was Backed up and the man picked up in an unconscious condition. Dr. A. J. Oliver was summoned and upon examination found that the Man had sustained a serious compound fracture of the left arm and fore arm, all the ribs on his left side were badly crushed and a serious wound was behind his right ear.

    The unfortunate man never fully regained consciousness, therefore nothing could be ascertained as to where he came from or whether he had any relatives.

    The firm had his name and knew him. He had been with them for Only a short time, as he was picked up a few days ago. Where He came from is not known.

Second Similar Accident

    The members of the firm say that this is the second accident of this kind that they have ever had while in the railroad business and they do not see how it occurred.

    The remains were brought to the city this afternoon and the coroner’s inquest will be held this evening at the justice court of H. S. Howe.

Page 133


Over the Remains of August Schmidt Killed Tuesday.


Coroner's Jury Exonerates All—Efforts Being
Made to Find Out where the Man Came From—
No Clue As Yet.

The inquest was held Tuesday evening over the remains of August Schmidt, the unfortunate man who was killed at the McDougall and Yale Camp yesterday morning. The accident happened at the dump just back of the camp where the largest fill of the work is being made, and where a large culvert is being covered. The smaller of the two steam shovels is at work at this point. The place where the accident occurred is on the land formerly owned by Chas. N. Rider, who sold the property ot the Milwaukee company.

The Inquest.

    The inquest was held Tuesday evening in the justice office of H. S. Howe at 7:30, the jury consisting of H. G. Schoenig, C. F. Schoenig and H. S. Howe, Coroner E. R. King having charge of the proceedings. The first witness called was Albert Johnson. He testified that he was the rear brakeman on the dump train which ran over Schmidt. He did not see him fall but the man on the other end of the dump train motioned to him to apply the brake, which he did as soon as possible. The train only ran three or four feet. He helped to pick up the man and carry him to camp. He had known Schmidt a few days, Schmidt having been around the camp but a short time. In his testimony he described the kind of brake used, stating that it was a good strong one and that at the time of the accident the train was not running as fast as a man could walk. He said he had never heard Schmidt mention where he came from.

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Ohm Testifies.

    Another laborer at the camp by the name of Albert Ohm was called to the witness stand and stated that he was coming toward the train, and saw Schmidt just as he fell. He was about 200 feet from the accident, and said that Schmidt was carrying coal to the steam shovel, that he fell on the rails and appeared to be stunned. The car was about ten or twelve feet from the unfortunate man, when he slipped and fell, his head striking the rail . He said he had known Schmidt a few days and had heard him speak quite often of Quincy, Illinois and had never heard him speak any German, but always English.

Contractor McDougall.

    J. A. McDougall, of the contracting firm of McDougall and Yale was called to the witness stand. He said that Schmidt had worked for the firm but a few days. It was Schmidt's business to carry coal to the steam shovel, which necessitated him crossing the tracks of the dump cars. He said that every car was equipped with good brakes and the tracks were sanded and not icy at the time. The cars are run down to the dump by gravity and pulled back by horses. Mr. McDougall stated he was about 30 feet from the car at the time of the accident but did not see the affair, but that the train pushed the body of the unfortunate man along and did not run over him. He helped to pick him up and carry him to the camp where he died about 1:30 in the afternoon. Mr. McDougall said he never told where he lived, but had heard the men speak of Schmidt's home being in Quincy.

The Verdict.

After the above testimony was received the coroner's jury rendered the following verdict:

State of Iowa, Muscatine C o . , ss:

An inquisition holden on Dec. 17, 1901 at Muscatine, Iowa, in said county, upon the body of August Schmidt, there lying dead, by the jurors whose names are hereunto subscribed, the said jurors upon their oaths do say: That August Schmidt came to his …

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… death by being run onto by a dump train on the Rider farm. Seventy Six Township, on the 17th day of December 1901.

In testimony whereof the said jurors have hereunto set their hands the day and year aforesaid.
    H. G. Schoenig
    C. F. Schoenig
    H. S. Howe
Attest—E. R. King, Coroner.

Body Brought To Town.

    Constable Will Schoenig and Undertaker Rankin went down to the camp yesterday afternoon, and took charge of the body, bringing it to the undertaking rooms of Eb. Day, where it is now being kept. Northing of any value was found on the person of Schmidt and there are no means of identification, nor anything to tell where he came from, or where he has a place to be called home. Dr. Day telephoned to Davenport but could learn nothing of the man at that place. There were cards found on him from Davenport firms and it was thought some clue as to his identity might be secured there. Mr. Day also telegraphed to Quincy, but so far nothing has been heard from that city in regard to the man.

    If nothing is heard from any of these sources and the body is kept the required length of time, it will then be disposed of at the expense of the county.

Page 136

December, 1901 Annual Edition


First Man on the Scene Is The Engineer and the Last Is the Section
Man Who Comes to Stay After Hundreds have Prepared the Bed and
Put in Place the Rails.


Machinery of Construction Set in Operation
Keeps Moving Until at Last the Plan is Complete.

One day last spring there stepped off the train in Muscatine a small company of civil engineers. They had been sent here by the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railroad Company to survey and lay out the shortest path for that great road through Muscatine county. Their arrival occasioned some excitement among the residents of Muscatine, though few knew their mission, but they have added to the facilities of Muscatine a hundred fold and brought one of the great trunk lines of the west into the city.

Engineers Begin Work.

    They, having a map of the county, proceeded to the lower limits of the city and commenced the task of laying out the line, so that with the assistance of some of the prominent men of Muscatine, the right of way could be purchased and the real work begun. Two thoughts were in their minds. One, was the shortest distance between two points; the other the most economical plan by which the road could acquire the property and push their line to Kansas City.

How It Goes.

    Leaving the main line of the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific railway the line leads off to the right and then with Ottumwa as the objective point, makes a "bee line" for that city. Two surveyors laid their line across the flat and started on …

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… the big hill just where the Burlington wagon road passes under the proposed route. The line continues along the edge of the bluff, steadily gaining a higher point until it reaches the Adam Wigim farm, where a deep cut is made and it assumes the level of the surrounding country.

Their Method.

    The method by which the civil engineers work is interesting. They first establish a base line of grade, far below any grade that they may eventually establish. All surveys and measurements are made with this invisible line as a base of operations. They then establish their grade and taking the general topography of the country into consideration they then mark along the way the cuts and fills to be made. The operation is an interesting one, but requires considerable skill and a level head.

    The enginners completed their work and submitted a complete copy of their surveys showing just almost exactly the amount of work that will have to be done and a general estimate as to the cost. From these surveys the plans and specifications were drawn up and submitted to the board of directors and those in authority. This department is one of the most important of all, for the slightest error made on the part of these engineers may cost the company thousands of dollars by the time the road has been completed. .

Making the Contracts.

    The plans and specifications having been approved and all made in readiness, the various contractors over the country are given the opportunity to bid upon the amount of work that they will do. No one contracting firm attempts to take the entire amount of work, that is the whole line from Davenport to Ottumwa, but the route is divided into sections and bids made on those various sections.

Contractors Bid.

    The Flick & Johnson company of Davenport, took the largest amount of the work from Muscatine to Ottumwa, having a large slice at each end of the line. They in turn sublet the districts to other contractors, who took complete and entire control of that portion and will push it to completion.

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Important Matter.

    The making of these contracts is a very important matter. The contractors are put under bonds to do the work in a certain time and the work must be up to the proposed specifications in every particular. Of course, in awarding a contract of this size both parties are after the best of the deal and each one aims to gain an advantage over the other. In the meantime, representatives of these contracting firms have carefully gone over the ground and know just what has to be done, how much dirt has to be removed and the necessary machinery to be used, the location of the camps, the proximity of supplies, the cost of hauling working material to the scene of operations and every detail that one can possible imagine. They even take into account how many rainy days they will be stopped by stormy weather and every minor detail that one possibly imagines is taken into consideration when this great contract is made. These railroad contractors are generally old at the business, and although they assume an immense amount of responsibility and take a risk involving thousands of dollars, they generally in the long run make a good profit and although they have vicissitudes almost innumerable, they are usually men who are good in the matter of surmounting difficulties.

After the Contract Is Made.

    The contracts all made, bonds all certified it was then up to the contractors themselves. They came to Muscatine. They drove down the right of way and made the necessary arrangements for the location of the various camps and the arrangements for the provisions for these camps as they will have a small army to feed and plenty of provisions will be necessary. All in readiness, they commenced to ship in their material and machinery and then establish the camp.

Camps are Established.

    The first camps that were established on the work here were in the field just across from the old creamery. Here were two small camps, but were only there a short time, for these people had comparatively little to do. Farther on down the road Mcintosh Brothers, one of the sub-contracting firms have put up temporary buildings and made everything in readiness for a winter camp and early in November the men could be seen caulking up the cracks and making the temporary houses warm and sufficiently tight to keep out the chill of winter. Others have established small camps, …

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… but the big camp of the entire work is In the valley right back of the place owned by Joe Vannatta. Here along the bed of a stream, an ideal place was found to put a camp. Easy of access, good water near, close to the work, only five miles from town, it seemed to be a place especially marked out for the location of this monstrous undertaking. McDougall and Yale have settled at this place and if one wants a glimpse of a modern railroad camp, here it can be seen and this enterprising firm have established a great reputation in the hearts and minds of the people of Muscatine for their businesslike methods.

Down Town Offices.

    But when a great railroad is building through a town offices must be kept up in the nearest city of any importance. In this case it is Muscatine and consequently there are a number of city offices established. McDougall and Yale, Mcintosh Bros., and the civil engineer, Mr. Scoffield, all have places of business here in Muscatine, where they can be seen at all times of the day, making the business methods easier and greatly expediting the work. These offices are generally busy places and here is where all of the books are kept and the business conducted with the outside world.

How Men are Secured.

    But the next question comes up, how are the men for this work to be secured. Although many Muscatine men received positions and good employment at the hands of these contractors the greater portion of them were shipped in. This system also is somewhat unique. In the large cities -- Chicago, Omaha and others -- there are to be found large employment bureaus of agencies. These are established and kept up by the different contracting firms. A man can go to any one of these employment agencies, pay $1 in money and is given a pass over the railroad to the point where he will be put to work.

Hundreds of Men Arrived.

    The men are shipped in bunches of 25 or more, and it was not uncommon sight this past fall to see anywhere from 25 to 50 men …

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… to come off the afternoon t r a in or the night train, having been shipped here from an agency of this character in Chicago. They came in groups and slowly wended their way down to the camps to which they were assigned. Not all went to work, but a majority did, and those who preferred to remain idle either drifted to some ether busy center or back to Chicago.

Other Men Came

    While hundreds of men were shipped into Muscatine in this manner, nevertheless a great number came on their own hook. The work here was talked of by the knights of the road and other places so that it became quite generally known that there was plenty of work in this vicinity and so came to t ry their hand at it.

Accounting System

    The contractors at these camps keep an accounting system with each man, keep a check on his amount of work, how much time he puts in and everything about him, until he draws his salary and departs for greener pastures. The contractors feed the men and give them lodging at the camps and charge them $3. 50 per week. When a man arrives, his name is placed on the time keepers' book and he starts to work. He is paid the end of the week, the contractors keeping back the amount of his board. In this manner - no man can "jump his board bill," but pays it in advance, that is in advance of his pay. These contractors also keep several necessary articles on hand in camp, such as mittens, heavy shoes, coarse, woolen shirts, some underwear, socks, etc. , which are sold to the men on the same principles as the board is paid. Tobacco is also kept and from the general outside appearance and the contentment that prevails throughout these camps southwest of Muscatine, the workingmen appear happy and live very comfortably. Not a one of them lack the necessities of life and all are well fed and are paid wages so that they can afford to be comfortably clothed.

Men Have Families

    Oftentimes some of the men in these camps have families in other parts of the United States, where work is scarce and the head of the house has had to leave his home and push out into the cold and heartless world in order to make a livelihood to keep the wolf from the …

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… door and his little ones from going hungry. You prosperous people of Muscatine, who have your happy homes, and surrounded with every comfort that a good income can bring do not know the hardships that some of these railroad men have to undergo.

A Good Class of Men

    The men that are employed on the Milwaukee southwest of Muscatine area a pretty good class of men. No serious disturbances have been reported from that district and the general order has been commendable In some places Italians have been employed and some contractors employ negroes, procuring them from the southern districts and oftentimes the camps are hotbeds of crime and filled with objectionable characters. But the contractors who have had the work near Muscatine are fortunately men who believe in having a good class of workingman and the consequences is that very little disturbance has resulted.

The First Work to Be Done

    The first work to be done was to clear the land. Through a greater portion of the route through Muscatine county there was a quantity of wood land and this had to all be cleared before the graders could go to work. Not only did the trees have to be cut down and the brush burned, but the stumps had to all be grubbed out and the land made ready for the plow, that would break up the earth so the wheel scrapers and dumps could work effectively.

Houses To Be Moved

    Along the line south of here, even houses had to be moved. In more than one case the right of way of the great Milwaukee road rain through a house or a barn, which either had to be moved or torn down. These are many houses down on the Burlington road that have been moved over and out of the way. The road, of course, paid all the damages in cases like this, so the owner was only out the inconvenience and was even well paid for that. After the land was cleared and the buildings all out of the way the actual work of grading commenced.

How the Grading is Done

    The grading stakes are first firmly fixed in the minds of the foreman and these people direct where the teams will be put to work, where …

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… the plow will work and where the scrapers will commence to remove the dirt.

    Take it along the flat just out of the city limits a grade of about twelve feet had to be raised. The dirt was taken from along the side of the right of way and dumped on to the proposed grade, until it attained the proper height. The grades have to be at least twenty feet across the top and slope proportionately to the bottom. They must be firm, so as not to wash away, for this grade will have to endure all sorts of weather and carry tons and tons of weight, when the trains are started over it.

Piling Put In

    This grade along the flat is all built on the plan described above. But when the grade approaches a hill, then a change of tactics is necessary. Some of the hill will have to be cut off and dumped down into the low places. Where a condition like this exists or where a stream has to be crossed a pile driver is put to work and immense piles driven in and on these are built a trestle work. On the trestle work is laid a track and the dump cars run out on them and the dirt dumped out over the trestle, which is in time buried, but furnishes a support for the grade.

The Heavy Work

    But where the heavy work is done various kinds of machinery are utilized to expedite and accomplish the large undertaking. Steam shovels are used to dig into the sides of the hills and on top of the hills, where they have to be cut down to any great extent a machine called an excavator is used. This is an arrangement pulled by a number of teams and scrapes up the dirt and throws it onto a wagon that is pulled along by the side of the machine. The dirt is dumped into the wagon, which on being filled is taken to the dump and unloaded. While this machine does not remove such an immense amount of dirt as a steam shovel, nevertheless it is a valuable affair and a great time and labor saver.

Putting in the Bridges

    Along with the grading there comes the great work of putting in the bridges and culverts. Another class of contractors do this work.

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    The culverts are all made of concrete and will be put in as soon as possible. This will hardly be before spring, as they have to go in, when there is no danger of the mortar freezing before drying. A great weight rests upon these culverts and the utmost care must be taken that they a r e firm and secure. The Milwaukee road will have one immense bridge to build. This is in Cedar township, when they cross the Cedar river. This will have to be a large iron structure of two or more spans and will require an immense amount of work. Already preparations a r e in progress in that vicinity, so that as soon as the river opens in the spring the bridge can be put in and the grading of the approaches accomplish.

Track Laying Process

    After the grading has been completed, the bridges all in, the process of the last stage of laying the track is commenced. Ties and rails will be brought and distributed along the grade. Good foremen a r e necessary in this department. This is an important matter and no mistakes must be made. On some roads a track laying machine is employed, but it is generally thought here that the work on the road southwest of here will use nothing but men in this particular.

A Great System

    In this line of the business a great system is employed. They never spare the number of men and each man has just so much to do. In first gang, there are enough men to lay the ties and a foreman to direct the work. The ties all laid, right behind comes another gang whose business it is to lay the rails upon the ties, and they are superintended by a track layer of experience. Each man lifts a certain portion of the rail and puts it in its place. After this body of men comes the men with the connections and fishplates with which to fasten the rails together and last comes the men to drive the spikes. Each one of this last body of men has a certain spike to drive in each rail and when he has accomplished that moves on to the next rail and so on. With such a complete system as this the track laying process goes forth with surprising rapidity.

Ballasting the Track

    When the rails are all laid, there comes the men to ballast up track and make it level and give it the firmness necessary for such …

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… heavy traffic. Various materials are used for ballast. Some roads use crushed stone, others cinders and others sand, and still others red clay ballast. The greatest principle in this line is to have some material that will not shift, but remain firm and stand the test.


    And so a great railroad is built. The engineers take their part, then the contractors, the graders, the bridge builders, the tracks layers and all of the necessary workingmen to push the great Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul railroad across Muscatine county. How many will think of this vast amount of work, when they lean back in the rich upholstery of a Pullman and speed toward Kansas City at the rate of 50 miles an hour.

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Annual Edition, 12-1901


Something of the Wonderful Steam Shovel
Purchased Especially For this Work.


It cost $7,000.00 and Can Do the Work of 200
Men—Was Taken Seven Miles Across the Country
Other Machinery Used is of Large Dimensions

    One thing to be noticed more than any other at the scene of the great railroad work on the Milwaukee is the labor saving machinery that has been put into use. One not acquainted with the manner and methods of railroad construction and who does not take the vast amount of labor saving machinery into consideration would actually think that the construction of this road within a year would be well nigh impossible. Thousands and thousands of yards of dirt have to be moved and this done with the smallest number of men with the greatest amount of speed.

Money Invested.

    It is this labor saving machinery that causes the immense expense in the contracting business. When the energetic firm of McDougall and Yale undertook the vast contract that they have south of this city, they came to the realization of the fact in a very short time more machinery than they possessed at that time would be required. Negotiations were at once opened up with the Bucyrus Manufacturing Company of South Milwaukee, Wisconsin, for the purchase of a gigantic steam shovel with which to burrow through the great hill and bluff that was in the contract of this firm. A Heavy Expense.

    A few days before the arrival of this monster which would take the place and do the work of probably two hundred men, Mr. Yale …

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… stopped a Journal reporter on the street and showed him a bill for $7,000 from this South Milwaukee firm, for this steam shovel, pictures of which are to be found on these pages. That is enough to buy a Muscatine county farm.” said he to the reporter. It takes money to push these things, but the profits are large.

The Bucyrus Company.

    The firm from which this giant piece of machinery was purchased is one of the largest and most extensive in the manufacture of machinery of this character. They are the designers and builders of steam shovels, dipper dredges, elevator dredges, hydraulic dredges, railroad wrecking cranes, and placer mining machines. They are located at South Milwaukee, Wisconsin, but have offices in Cleveland, Ohio and New York City. They are an immense firm and their equal in the construction of machinery of this kind is not to be found in the world.

Various Sized Shovels.

    The smallest shovel that this great company makes is one weighing about 12 tons. This is used in cities, where the work is not very heavy for grading and paving. The next largest is the 35 ton machines, which are employed in the heaviest work to be found in placer mining or railroad construction. This 95 ton machine has a car over 40 feet in length. The size of the cylinders of its main engines is 14X16 inches. It is equipped with a locomotive boiler with a diameter of 66 inches and a length of 14 feet and three inches. It is a monster piece of machinery and does the work of hundreds of men. It has a five yard dipper with a clear lift from rail to the bottom of the dipper door when open of 17 feet and can make a cut at an elevation of 8 feet, 54 feet in width.

The Machine Here.

    The machine used here on the work below the city has the enormous weight of 55 tons. The car on which it is placed is nearly 40 feet in length and ten feet wide. The main engines have 10x12 inch cylinders and the diameter of the boiler is 54 inches and is over 12 feet in length. It has a clear lift of …

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… over 12 feet and the width of the cut at an eight feet elevation is 50 feet. It is equipped with three different engines, all supplied by steam from the same boiler.

How It Works.

    This massive piece of machinery works into a bank, commencing at the side and working its way through. If the cut is to "be deeper one than the machine can make, the shovel makes another trip up through, and gradually cuts its way down to the established grade. On the work at the Adam Wigim farm southwest of Muscatine, a 44 foot cut is to be made and the shovel will have to make two trips through this stretch and farther on, there is another place, where the cut is nearly as deep. At the present time it is on the second trip.

Three Men Required.

    To run the machine itself, it requires but three men. The fireman to keep the steam up to the proper notch, the engineer who has levers and valves galore and one would think could use a dozen hands, and the craneman who works out on the crane, or projecting long arm, that can be seen in the pictures. The engineer and the craneman are paid the best of any men on the work, and must have a clear head and thoroughly understand the machine, they have in their charge. The most of the responsibility rests with these two and they receive ample remuneration. .

Shovelers and Helpers.

    Of course there are more than three men at work in connection with this piece of machinery. There are about twenty shovelers and helpers, who assist in changing the jackscrews and the rails when the machine is moved forward, and also keep the dirt away from the track upon which the cars run.

How a Lift is Made.

    The engineer swings the crane around to the proper place, when the first shovel is to be taken out, letting the dipper down to the …

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… bottom of the pit. Then starting the various engines and the craneman starting or stopping the thrusting engine as he deems necessary, the large dipper plows its way up to the top of the enbankment, being full by the time it has reached that position. The engineer than swings the dipper and crane around to the track, while the craneman with his eye guages it until the dipper is over the car, when he pulls a rope releasing the bottom of the dipper and letting the contents drop into the car. The string of cars is moved along and the operation repeated until the train load is filled, when it is run down to the dump and emptied. The work appears quite simple when looking at it but its quickness and capacity for work depends entirely on its management and system. The system used here is a fine one and one would be surprised at the rapid progress made in the few months. When one of these dipper fulls is emptied it takes three cubic wards of dirt, an amount which would take shovelers some time to accomplish.

Has a Nick Name.

    But this big piece of machinery has a nickname that is expressive and to the point. When it first came into use, Irishmen were employed all over this country in the construction of railroad and the removal of large quantites of dirt. When the steam shovel put in an appearance nearly all of these sons of Erin were forced to seek other employment. It then received the name of "Big Mike" from the fa et that it could do the work of about 200 Irishmen.

How Transported.

    The shovel is on a set of tracks like a railroad car, and the crane is removed and the rest of the outfit placed in a train, and thus moved from place to place. But down here they had a proposition with which to contend by the moving of this machine across the country seven miles. The machine was taken to Letts, and from there was taken across the country to the place where they are now working. A track was laid in front of the shovel and taken up as fast as it had passed by. When it has finished its work south west of Muscatine, it will be taken out on the new road itself. Mcintosh Brothers also have a shovel to work near …

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… here and this was transported at the same time as the new one.

Other Machinery.

    But other machinery is used in the construction of a railroad. There are the various kinds of dump cars, dump wagons, graders, etc. A great deal of the work is done by the ordinary wheel scraper, but there is also a machine used on the side of a hill, where there is not such a large amount of dirt to be removed that is very interesting. It is called an excavator and is manufactured by the Austin Manufacturing Company of Harvey, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. This machine is pulled by four teams of horses and the dirt is plowed up and carried by a system of endless chains to the level of a dump wagon and dumped into the box. The dump wagon is driven along the side of the machine, and as fast as one is filled there is another to take its place. Three or four of these machines are used on the work.

Will Work All Winter.

    So briefly is described the various kinds of heavy machinery used on this work. The contractors will work all winter, for with this equipment, front has no terrors. That shovel has been used on ground and work far heavier than the frost laden clay of Muscatine county.

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Work Between Muscatine and Davenport
Being Pushed Slowly


The Heaviest Work on the Double Track
Will Fall About Six Miles Above Muscatine
Work Will Be Done Slowly.

    The work of building a double track between Muscatine and Davenport is an important but a comparatively small part of the task necessary to accomplish before the Milwaukee railroad will be running trains through Muscatine. In building, this doubletrack there is practically only one feature of any special difficulty and that is a great cut which will have to be made in Wyoming Hill to allow room for another track. The rest of the work is comparatively easy and a small force of men is taking its time at it.

They Traded Tracks.

    As has been explained in another part of this paper, the arrangement whereby the Rock Island road builds a double track between Muscatine and Davenport and allows the Milwaukee to use it is one of mutual benefit. By granting this concession the Rock Island themselves are given the privilege of using for the B. C. R. & N. a stretch of Milwaukee track running unto the city of St. T Paul. It would of course be impossible for the two great lines to use only one track between here and Davenport and thus it was necessary for a double track to be constructed. With its own splendid train service on the Kansas City division the Rock Island, including their freight business, almost monopollizes the single track now and with the additional trains which the Milwaukee will put on it would be utterly impossible to get along with only one track. In fact, the double track will doubtless be taxed to the utmost capacity.

Are Working Slowly.

    The work on the double track has been underway for some weeks but it is being done very slowly and in easy stages. As yet there has been only a comparatively small force of the regular …

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… employees at work. Of course, it is not necessary to have the work completed until the Milwaukee line is done and as that is expected to take fully a year there is plenty of time for this work to be pursued at easy stages. With a small force of men doing up the work gradually it can be finished by the time the Milwaukee will be ready to use the line.

What Is Being Done.

    The heaviest piece of work on the double track is the cut which it will be necessary to make at Wyoming Hill, about six miles above Muscatine. At the point as the great bluff runs right up to the river and when the present track was built there was only enough cut away along the edge to make room for another track. This means a good many square yards of earth, as the bluff is very high at this point, and it will also have to be cut for some distance. A steam shovel is now on the ground and the work is quite well under way in the hands of a small force.

Elevated Tracks in Davenport.

    The Rock Island road is now building elevated tracks through the city of Davenport. It is also building a handsome new depot about a block south of the old one. In pursuing all this work it will of course be done to accommodate the double track.

    Some grading has also been done along the line between here and Davenport. There are several places where it will be necessary to do slight grading for some distance. The ties are all on the ground and there is no doubt but that the rails will be laid in some places at an early date.

May Continue Double Track.

    The construction of a double track between here and Davenport may mean a double track Over the Rock Island road to Kansas City before long. The Rock Island is double tracking nearly all of its line through Iowa and many think that in constructing this double track the road is just beginning a double track all the way to Kansas City which will be probably pushed to completion in the next year or two.

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